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Swan Lake: July 1-9


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Now, to whom do we address the screaming-baby complaints?

To the parents.

I appreciate that it's the parents who are at fault here, but unfortunately, that doesn't help when I can hear a baby crying somewhere, I don't know where, during the middle of a performance. I think we should let management know the performance was seriously disrupted, so that they take a stand about letting babies into the theater (it's not like they can enjoy the performance) or get the ushers to take action more quickly.

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A brief report after an exhausting Swan Lake marathon (5 this week).

At today's matinee, Vishneva's lovely, liquid performance was difficult to truly enjoy, thanks to I don't know how many screaming babies in the upper balcony. It was truly maddening. Were you upstairs, Richard? I gather last week's matinee was just as bad. Does anyone know the Met's policy on letting babies in, and to whom do we complain? Perhaps we should organize and complain to management... Now, to whom do we address the screaming-baby complaints?

Christine,

I usually do sit upstairs but was considering a rear orchestra seat. In some kind of odd logic (which I can't recreate today) I bought a standing room spot at the back of the orchestra.

Although this area is death for the opera because the overhang muffles the sound and particularly the voices, it also muffles a lot of the attendee noise , so it's not a bad deal for the ballet.

So I heard a little of the screaming, but not enough to be distracting.

I can't agree with GTWT on addressing the kiddie noise with the parents; often they become very righteous ("I paid for a ticket for my kid, they have a right to scream") and the whole thing escalates into an ugly scene. Not always, of course, sometimes a gentle suggestion to the parents IS enough.

But usually I go to the ushers. After all I paid for my ticket too. I can be quite......shrill.

Richard

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I was feeling really lousy on Saturday, and I debated a bit about whether or not to stay in bed or go into Manhattan to see “Swan Lake”. Thank God “Swan Lake” won out. I had never seen Vishneva before, and she was really a glorious Odette/Odile. Maybe she wasn’t quite as tragic an Odette as Part or Nina A., but I think that will come in time. I really love Gillian Murphy as Odette/Odile, but she just doesn’t have the arms of the dancers trained in the old Soviet system. When Odette was turning back into a swan at the end of Act II, it was like she had no bones. She really became a swan for me. It was just breathtaking. I really want to thank nysusan, faux pas, drb, and Zerbinetta for writing so beautifully about the Vishneva/Saveliev “Swan Lake”. It saves me a lot of time, because I agree with them. I ‘m also aware that their ballet writing is better than mine, so I’m very glad they posted before me. I just want to add that Vishneva stood out for her musicality. Also, when the ballet was over, I heard people commenting about what a graceful Swan Queen Vishneva was. I agree with that too. I am a little confused about something Richard53dog wrote. He said Vishneva danced a different solo in the Black Swan pdd. I’ve seen Kevin McKenzie’s “Swan Lake” six times lives, and the tv version several times, and Vishneva danced the same solo as all the other Odiles. Yes, she certainly added great flourishes, like putting her hands over her as she did some very fast turns at the end of the solo, but it was essentially the same solo.

Saveliev’s performance has also been described very well by the above named posters. At Saturday’s matinee, his landings were a little rocky in the first Act I, but after that he was just fine. I don’t think he and Vishneva had a lot of chemistry, but since this was only the second “Swan Lake” they danced together, I could understand that. Some people around me (stupid me in my opinion – I know I shouldn’t be judgmental, but…) were upset that Saveliev’s dancing was not at same level as his dancing in “Le Corsaire” two weeks earlier. It’s an entirely different ballet, an entirely different part. No matter what Kevin McKenzie said during the intermission of the tv “Swan Lake”, “Swan Lake” is about Odette/Odile. Siegfried’s role is to support her. (Or am I wrong here? I don’t think so. If Saveliev started dancing like the slave dealer from “Le Corsaire” in “Swan Lake”, it would be just awful.

It was great seeing Michele Wiles and David Hallberg in the Act I pas de trios. Wiles was glowing, and Hallberg was as elegant and wonderful as usual. I wasn’t really impressed with Simone Messmer. I thought she was okay, but no more than that. Speaking of David Hallberg, I’ve always meant to ask why he didn’t dance the leading roles in “Raymonda”, “Swan Lake”, “Le Corsaire”, etc. I was just looking at the ABT brochure I got last November. I understand about Nina A., but she’s out this season. Hallberg’s still dancing with ABT.

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A few notes on the production, after seeing it 5 times from the family circle. Kevin McKenzie, are you out there? Is ABT aware that:

--At the end of Act III, when the doors open and Odette appears flailing her arms, she cannot be seen from the balcony at all? Some of the people around me had no idea what was going on at that point, and wondered why everyone was staring so fixedly at an open, empty doorway.

--After Odette and Siegfried make their leap off the cliff, the dancers can be glimpsed, a moment later, dashing offstage, through some opening in the rocks/trees on the right?

--Finally, it's been so long since I've seen it from downstairs that I'm not sure about this, but is there some sighting of Odette and Siegfried at the very end, as the sun is rising? If so, that also cannot be seen from upstairs.

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Richard, sorry if I didn't express myself very well. I agree that one has to complain to the ushers. A parent who doesn't feel compelled to leave the theatre when their child is throwing a tantrum will probably not be very cooperative if an audience member asks them to leave.

Edited to add: The Met's policy on children is that children are allowed but they must be ticketed. http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/sea...g/faq/#children

Compare to the Pennsylvania Ballet's policy: http://www.paballet.org/season/attend.aspx

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Finally, it's been so long since I've seen it from downstairs that I'm not sure about this, but is there some sighting of Odette and Siegfried at the very end, as the sun is rising? If so, that also cannot be seen from upstairs.

Odette and Siegfried are in the middle of the rising sun. It is visible from the Balcony, but just barely and you basically have to really be searching for the sight of them.

From the Orchestra it's a clearer scene, it's much harder to miss them.

Yesterday, Visneva did one final lovely gesture in that tableau.

Sorry to be so cynical but I have come to believe that in general the theaters really don't care that much what people in the cheap seats see(that they shouldn't) and don't see (what they should).

Richard

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Enjoyed Vishneva's performance very much Saturday afternoon, but I enjoyed Part's performance on Thursday night even more. Part was more touching as Odette and took special glee in deceiving Siegfried as Odile. Vishneva did not change facial expression from Odette to Odile. It was interesting at the conclusion of the performance the members of the orchestra were applauding Vishneva probably because she dances right on the beat as opposed to Part who takes many liberties with the beat and is more difficult to follow. They are great artists and look forward to seeing them both next season. I agree with the previous posts about the crying children. It was indeed disconcerting. As was mentioned the ushers at the Met must take a more active role in stopping this major irritation that can indeed ruin a performance for both the dancers and audience. This is not a problem at the Opera and the ushers are not used to dealing with it. We must make them aware of our feelings.

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Fans of these dancers would have been happy to see Hallberg, Wiles, and Meunier in the first and third act pdt.

Richard

I’m afraid that was Hallberg,Wiles & Simone Messmer, not Monique Meunier.

A brief report after an exhausting Swan Lake marathon (5 this week).

At today's matinee, Vishneva's lovely, liquid performance was difficult to truly enjoy, thanks to I don't know how many screaming babies in the upper balcony. It was truly maddening. Were you upstairs, Richard? I gather last week's matinee was just as bad. Does anyone know the Met's policy on letting babies in, and to whom do we complain? Perhaps we should organize and complain to management...

Now, to whom do we address the screaming-baby complaints?

Christine, you are so right, those crying kids were maddening! I actually had tickets in a balcony box, but decided that I had enjoyed Vishneva’s Thursday performance so much I wanted to see her from closer up so I upgraded that $25 ticket to center orchestra. Not only were those screaming babies a constant distraction (not only from the balcony, but from all over the house) I also had the pleasure of having as neighbors someone behind me snoring through the first lakeside scene and 2 women in the middle of the row in front of me who felt the need to get up and make their way out of the auditorium just after the start of the white swan pas de deux! When someone exclaimed “you’ve got to be kidding” (I think it was me!), one of the ladies muttered “sorry, it’s an emergency”. Whatever. I’m afraid I didn’t find Vishneva’s 2nd performance quite as magical as the first, but I think it was the circumstances, rather than anything she did. I’ve really come to accept screaming babies as a given at matinees, and avoid them like the plague. The only time I’ll go to a matinee is when there is an artist of Vishneva’s caliber performing and I have to see every one of her performances, or if it’s something/someone I couldn’t see any other time. This was my third matinee of the season, after a Jewels matinee & Part’s Raymonda. I take it for granted that it’s going to happen at a matinee but I will not put up with it at an evening performance. At City Center last season there were a bunch of kids at an evening performance of the repertory program that included Les Sylphides. Just imagine how distracting that was! I actually left my seat about 10 minutes into Les Sylphides,went right to the usher & complained. During intermission I went to the house manager & they comped me for another performance. Somehow I doubt that the Met would be as generous but it never hurts to try...

A brief report after an exhausting Swan Lake marathon (5 this week).

... getting back to the performance, I also found it difficult to enjoy David Hallberg in the pdt, because I can now only picture him as last night's totally evil von Rothbart! I'll never look at him the same way again.

I’m so upset to have missed Hallberg’s vonR but Saturday was also my 5th SL and you’ve got to stop somewhere. Especially since I keep liking the production less & less each time I see it. Lately it has been bugging me that not only do the peasants dance the waltz & the aristocrats dance around the maypole (it should be the other way around) but the peasant boys lift the aristocrat ladies while they’re doing their maypole dance. Sure, that makes sense!

Tonight, Gillian Murphy, Angel Corella, Marcelo Gomes. What can I say? Murphy is just so perfect and solid in everything she does, it's dazzling. Yet, like Herrera last night, she doesn't have that swan quality, the arms, the hands, and she doesn't seem to let swan-ness get into her, the way Part and Vishneva do so well.

That’s very true. Yesterday when I got home from the matinee I had a little “dueling Swan Lakes” festival - pulled out my new Murphy/Corella tape and my 3 favorites - the Makarova/Nagy ABT version, Makarova/Dowell RB and Mezentseva/Zaklinsky Kirov tapes. The initial reason I decided to do that was because I remembered how much I loved the Kirov’s version of the pas de trois. When I saw it, it seemed so different from the RB/ABT versions I was used to that I thought it might have different choreography. Nope. The Kirov just dances it completely differently - the timing,phrasing & plastique are completely different. ABT/RB dancers bring a very lilting, flowing quality to it, and usually dance it demi character while the Kirov dancers really separate the phrases, and dance it with very classical plastique.

I also took a long hard look at Murphy’s line vs. Makarova’s. I realize that they are starting with very different bodies, and temperaments, but there are also some very clear, deliberate differences in the way they use their bodies. The first time I saw Murphy’s SL my reaction was that she’s all arms and legs. Upon viewing the tape - she is! She holds her arms stretched above her head a lot, and her high extensions give her a very vertical line. In contrast, Makarova rarely kept her arms stretched out above her shoulders for more than a moment. They’d stretch up, but then come right back down below her shoulders, with her head dipped down as well. And her arabesques were rarely over 90 degrees - when they were it was for emphasis but most of the time they were less than 90, resulting in a visual image of sadness and being pulled down by her sorrows, vs Murphy who was IMO had a very upward, stretched out look, and a very sharp, acute line. That’s just my attempt to analyze one tiny bit of Murphy’s Odette vs my favorite, to try to understand why I admire Murphy’s but don’t love it..

Finally - this is an exchange I heard between 2 people sitting behind me when they came back to their seats after intermission Sat aftenoon. She: “that was amazing, so moving, it was the best Act 2 I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen Makarova, but now I understand what people mean when they talk about her, Vishneva must be almost as good. He: I’ve seen Makarova, and Vishneva is better!

Well, I can’t quite agree with that but I will agree that Vishneva and Part were both very, very good, and in the Kirov tradition. Now, if only we could get Pavlenko & Lopatkina to dance Swan Lake in NY....

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Thank you for your post, nysusan! I'm sorry you had to cope with so many distractions. It's one thing to build audiences by letting younger children into the theater, but there's no excuse for babies.

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Not only were those screaming babies a  constant distraction (not only from the balcony, but from all over the house) I also had the pleasure of having as neighbors someone behind me snoring through the first lakeside scene and 2 women in the middle of the row in front of me who felt the need to get up and make their way out of the auditorium just after the start of the white swan pas de deux!

... besides the wailing babies, during Act IV I distinctly heard a childish voice, from somewhere in the balcony, saying, "Mom, I want to go home!"... and it was hard to refrain from shouting back, "then go!"

I am going to call tomorrow to find out how/to whom to register complaints, and I will report back with what I find, and hope people will join me in making formal complaints, especially since this was a problem last week as well. However, ABT's website appears to be down tonight, and I don't have the phone numbers. Can anyone inform?

GWTW, thanks for the link to the Pa. Ballet's website and their policy on not admitting children under 4. I wonder why the Met doesn't do the same?? As someone noted, this is not generally a problem in opera, where I have attended many a matinee without this occurring.

To focus more on ballet, what would people say were the high points of the Swan Lake run? For me it was Vishneva (especially Tuesday night), Veronika Part, and David Hallberg's von Rothbart.

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One caveat. Four of the season's eight Saturday matinees were specifically designated as ABTKids performances. I take that to imply (though not overtly stated in the brochures) that the audience will have a higher than normal number of very young viewers. But it does not give license to suspending judgment as to whether the child in question is able to be reasonably quiet and still for the duration. Yes, it is frustrating as hell when it's your only chance to see a favorite dancer in a particular role.

(Note to ABT/Met: Ever consider lengthening intermissions for ABT Kids' days just a bit and encouraging them to go out to the plaza/Damrosch park to run some of it off?)

Good luck, Christine!

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One caveat.  Four of the season's eight Saturday matinees were specifically designated as ABTKids performances. 

Thanks for the info! I didn't realize that. Did that include this week? It does make the situation somewhat different, although I wish the ushers would still move in more quickly, and children under 3 or 4 should not be there at all. But thanks again; I'll be a bit more tempered when I call.

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Just to let yu know that in 2004, ABT told the MET that policy will be the following: 1- That there would be no minimum age restrictions. If the ushers get complaints, they were instructed to then tell the parents that they must keep their children or they would be asked to leave. Some policy. :huh::angry2::wallbash:

Why do parents bring children who are not capable of seating quietly to a ballet like Swan Lake? And why does it fall on the ushers to do the obvious and do the adults' job? Then again, many adults can't seem to keep quiet either! They don't turn off their cellphones either. Could it be their parents did not teach them the fine art of BEING CONSIDERATE TO THEIR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS!!!!!!!!

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.  I am a little confused about something Richard53dog wrote.  He said Vishneva danced a different solo in the Black Swan pdd.  I’ve seen Kevin McKenzie’s “Swan Lake” six times lives, and the tv version several times, and Vishneva danced the same solo as all the other Odiles.  Yes, she certainly added great flourishes, like putting her hands over her as she did some very fast turns at the end of the solo, but it was essentially the same solo.

Colleen, I didn't notice the big jumps in the first verse of Odile's variation. That plus all the extra hand movements .But I could be mistaken, it happens a lot!

I loved the performance, one way or another

Richard

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Despite what parents think, most children under ten are not capable of sitting thru a ballet or opera. I'm sure the companies are happy to fill the seats with toddlers but their presence does nothing to enhance the performance for serious ballet-goers. It was a bit sad to see people bringing very young children to Jock Soto's farewell performance; that afternoon would have no meaning to these kids yet their presence deprived other people to whom the performance might have been special from attending, since the entire house was sold out well in advance.

I have seen parents dragging small children to such intense operas as ELEKTRA and long operas like WALKURE. Crazy!

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I have seen parents dragging small children to such intense operas as ELEKTRA and long operas like WALKURE. Crazy!

Those operas can certainly set up some interesting conversations about 'family values' on the way home! :)

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After 8 Swans in 9 nights (we actually had tickets to the Sat Matinee Vishneva/Saveliev performance but didn't make it, having seen the one earlier in the week), I am coming out of my coma & of the following opinions:

Best Act II: Part/Gomes

Best Act III: Wiles/Acosta

Most satisfying complete performance: Wiles/Acosta

Very little has been said here on the Wiles/Acosta performance. They are not ideally matched, but he is such a great partner & dynamic presence that it worked.

What is fascinating about Michelle's Odette is how she is slowly working it to suit her body. From last year to this season, she has clearly worked very hard. She isn't built to be an ideal Odette but was quite a convincing one. She needs to work on the hip to foot line a bit, maybe cheating out from the hip a bit to give a longer line. Their Act III had more dazzle & fireworks than any other .. & believe me, we saw them ALL .. at least once.

A wonderful coup de theatre was the casting of Hallberg as the blond, cool Nordic villain against Acosta's dark & hot-blooded hero from Southern climes. A lovely smashing of stereotypes.

But I still missed Nina.

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Perhaps it's time for me to come down from my cloud and post, but it's so nice up here! I've been here since last Monday -- Part & Gomes' first.

Thanks to the friend who gave me his extra seat in Row H Orchestra! :devil: If I remember correctly, the last time I sat so close was for a vanHamel LaSylphide.

In the Monday SL's Act II, I felt a connection betweeen Odette and Siegfried so strong, a conversation so continuous, that I was tempted to give the kids their privacy. Part, who couldn't be more beautiful in face or form, regarded her prince warily. It was during the course of the pas that he won her heart. Well, he won mine, too. He was so much more than a porteur. For example, During the section with the sissone lift, pointe tendu, pique turn back, etc., most Siegfrieds extend their downstage hand, "Here I am." Gomes extended his palm, leaned his body towards her, inclined his head, "Please, oh please, come back to me!" This is a pairing made in heaven. Two dancers who seem to share the same artistic values, who are the perfect size and proportions for each other. I realize that this was originally supposed to be Solymosi's Swan Lake, but I hope these two are allowed to develop together as a partnership.

The Friday Swan (seen from my usual vantage point behind the Dress Circle) was slightly different, but just as wonderful. As she folded into the dying swan pose to begin the adage, Part was clearly surrendering her fate to Siegfried, in whom she had absolute faith. I started to tear up, and keeping those tears back for the duration of the act was quite a challenge. If you cry you can't see, and I really wanted to see.

During the Black Swan variation on Tuesday, Part seemed to be running out of steam. So when she came out for her coda, turning out 30 beautifully shaped single fouettes, it was only a few moments until the conclusion. It was hard to tell whether the triumph was Odile's or Veronika's, but I've never seen one more exultant! So exhilirating! And when she disappeared and Siegfried tried to run out after Odette, the anger and desperation gripped every sinew in his body as he pounded against the doors, each fist echoing from the orchestra. I remarked to a friend that somehow, Marcelo believes every preposterous moment in this unlikely plot, and he makes us believe it, too. Every time I've seen this duo, my soul has been shaken.

A few notes on the sub-principal casts. One pas de trois with Hallberg, Wiles and Messmer. Messmer was extremely promising. Her face reminds me slightly of Kyra Nichols'. Wiles, in what may have been my last viewing of her in this role, brought a richness of detail that only a veteran can discover. Hallberg -- well, it's been said so often -- a magnificent young dancer. Has "Prince" written over every millimeter of him.

Jesus Pastor clearly gained confidence after Monday's performance and put it to good use on Thursday. His dancing, however, lacked fluidity. His effort showed.

Wonderful having Erica Cornejo back to lead the Czardas (Monday and Thursday) and as the Spanish princess on Wednesday :yahoo: ! Herman in the Act I pd3 with Reyes (an ideal role for her) and Kajiya. Lead swan Melanie Hamrick -- grand and lyrical -- deserves special mention.

As for Wiles-Acosta, zerbinetta pretty much summed it up for me. I am so gratified with the comparison of Wednesday's performance vs. the one a year ago. Great strides. I don't know whether I preferred her Black to Part's of Thursday (which was the most closely related to Odette of my four SL's), but I much preferred Wiles' danced and inhabited rendition over Murphy's impersonal if dazzling pyrotechnics.

Well, I'm still up on my cloud! :)

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Thank you for that review carbro--what an amazing run! I'm already anxiously awaiting the Kirov's return to the Kennedy Center, and now I'm looking forward to ABT just as much. :devil:

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